Deadline Now: BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey
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Deadline Now: BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey

December 2, 2011

After a national search, Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey was appointed President of Bowling Green State University (BGSU) on March 22, 2011.

Before becoming president of BGSU, she served from 2009-2011 as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Auburn University. In that capacity, she oversaw the academic programming for twelve colleges and was responsible for fostering the advancement of the university’s strategic plan.

From 2005-2009, she was Dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University (WVU), where she led a college-wide implementation of the WVU 2010 Strategic Plan and served on the Council to Implement the University’s Strategic Plan.

Prior to being appointed Dean at WVU, Dr. Mazey served for seven years as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Wright State University.

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Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now.

Thirty years ago, it was reasonable to think you could leave high school, get a low-skilled or semi-skilled job, and eventually earn enough to buy a home and raise a family.

That’s not true anymore, and probably never will be again. Forty years ago, when I was in college, you could get a good paying summer job in a factory, live at home, and earn almost enough to pay for your next year‘s education at a state school.

That’s not possible anymore either. While the love of learning and being an educated person is certainly valuable in its own right, the fact is that higher education is an economic necessity.

If Ohio and Michigan are going to be prosperous states again, they are going to have to find a way to compete for the brain-based jobs of the future, now that the old brawn-based economy is gone.

Unfortunately, while the governments of both states would cheerfully acknowledge the truth of what I just said, they have been cutting aid to higher education. That leaves university leaders like Mary Ellen Mazey at Bowling Green, or Lou Anna Simon at Michigan State University, with a huge dilemma. How do they manage to continue to maintain and even increase the quality of higher education with fewer resources. Both states say they will penalize colleges and universities if they raise tuition too much.

Besides, as President Mazey told Toledo Blade editor David Kushma recently, there’s also a question of how much you can raise tuition before you price yourself out of the market.

Becoming unaffordable for middle-class Ohioans is also an unacceptable alternative for a state school.   

So, what’s the answer? There probably isn’t one answer. Alumni and other private donors can help. Bowling Green is embarking on an overdue construction blitz to make over the schools academic buildings and add other infrastructure improvements.

That may help too. Most of all, however, we need an attitude adjustment on the part of the taxpayers and our lawmakers.  Columbus may say the state cannot afford to increase higher education funding, but that’s a reaction that represents tunnel vision.

If you look at where the jobs of the future will be, your reaction may be instead that we cannot afford NOT to spend the money we need to give the workforce of the future a fighting chance.